SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, CA, October 4, 2022 – Today, the City of South Lake Tahoe City Council adopted a single-use plastic water bottle ban, effective April 22, 2023 for city facilities and permitted, temporary activities and special events. The ban will expand to sales citywide on April 22, 2024, allowing businesses additional time to prepare for this shift. The ban will prohibit the sale of single-use plastic water bottles less than one gallon with an exception for emergency situations designated by the City Manager.
Single-use plastics are a significant source of waste and pollution due to the sheer volume of these products produced and used by consumers and the long amount of time they exist in the environment after their short, useful life ends. Discarded plastics are particularly damaging to water quality as they do not break down or decompose. Instead, they eventually break apart into microplastics that end up washed downstream into waterbodies. Through the course of an ongoing study, the University of California Davis’s Tahoe Environmental Resource Center (TERC) recently found plastic in almost every sample taken from beaches around the Lake. Because no wastewater is discharged to Lake Tahoe, most of the microplastic waste appears to be coming from plastic litter, especially plastic bottles and bags.
Visitors and businesses can contribute to the stewardship of Lake Tahoe by drinking local tap water or purchasing more sustainable single-use options. The Tahoe Water Suppliers Association (TWSA), a consortium of local municipal water agencies, and TERC, developed the ‘Drink Tahoe Tap’ campaign to encourage people to embrace the award-winning tap water and ditch the single use plastic water bottles. Even Raley’s, one of the area supermarkets, has been a committed partner displaying ‘Drink Tahoe Tap’ water bottles in the front of their stores.
“We aim to find ways to support an already roust ‘Drink Tahoe Tap’ marketing campaign and look forward to working with our business community to help them embrace this opportunity to participate in the stewardship of Lake Tahoe,” said Sara Letton, the City’s Sustainability Coordinator. “The community really stepped up to overwhelmingly support this at the first City Council presentation, but we also heard loud and clear from our business community that they are looking for some support as the ban is implemented.” In response, the City plans to install water bottle refill stations at strategic locations throughout the community over the next couple of years and will work with local partners on outreach and education to drive behavior change toward refilling with tap water.
While it’s true that beverage bottles are highly recyclable, consuming single-use plastics just to feed the recycling stream is not a model sustainability practice. Alternatives to single-use plastic water bottles are readily available in the market, including 100% recyclable aluminum single-use water bottles. “Most people might remember the adage ‘reduce, reuse, recycle.’ Consider that a prioritized list of actions,” Letton continued. When it comes to sustainability, “reduce” is always the most sustainable choice. Introducing visitors to South Lake Tahoe’s award-winning tap water is one of the many excellent experiences the City hopes to provide its residents and guests.”
The City’s location in the Lake Tahoe Basin makes us stewards of this internationally treasured resource. Today’s City Council action is an important step toward ensuring the sustainability and clarity of Lake Tahoe for generations to come.
Direct questions to Sara Letton, Sustainability Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-542-6175.